There are very few native flowers in bloom at the moment, the grasses are drying out, and the trees – always prominent in our landscape – are capturing my attention more each day. This is partly because I’m learning about bushfire habits, and partly because I received a field guide to trees as a gift recently.

The field guide “Trees of Victoria and Adjoining Areas‘ by Leon Costermans is pocket-sized, and easy to carry around with me when I’m walking through our treed areas.  The book is well set out, first identifying growing regions and then looking at the broad features of specific species of native Australian trees. It then shows illustrations of the bark, buds, leaves and fruit of each tree within that species.  My ‘tree eyes’ have not come into focus yet, and I am very bad at identifying a broad species, let alone a specific type of tree within that species group.  However, the field guide has made me look at our trees differently.

On our property, the leaves, buds and fruit are often too high to reach, so I began with a walk around our land looking at bark.   I’ve started picking up fallen branches, collecting bark from the ground, photographing leaves on low hanging branches, and looking at how the bark peels from a trunk.  While I have not reached any conclusions about our trees, I can see from the bark that we do have a variety of species here.  According to Costermans, ‘Gum’ types of Eucalypts have bark that often tears off in strips, ‘Box’ eucalypts have darker bark that is more flaky or scaly, while ‘Peppermint” Eucalypts can be part bare trunked with the lower regions of the tree covered in fine textured bark.  The ‘Stringybark’ Eucalypt, Rough Barked eucalypt, and ‘Mallee’ Eucalypt all have different bark characteristics which distinguish them from each other.

Leading up to Christmas, I have not had time to sit down and analyse the photographs I took on my recent walk, but I hope they are the starting point to identify some specific trees.  I have a hunch that my favourite tree outside the study window is a ‘Peppermint’ Eucalypt, but I can’t confirm this.  As for the others – they will have to wait until after the busy family celebrations for me to look more closely.   In the meantime, enjoy my first attempt to look at bark and leaves.   I don’t know enough about them to label any of the photos yet, so they are uncaptioned.

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